Wolfenstein is one of the elders of the video game industry. Although it may be commonly referred to as the first game, Wolfenstein 3D was not actually the first game in the Wolfenstein series. Wolfenstein debuted on the Apple 2 computer back in 1981 making it as old as Nintendo’s Mario! The game has always been centered around Nazis and most famously Adolf Hitler/Mecha Hitler. Peoples fascination and love for Wolfenstein games has always come from the fact that the game rewrites history and creates a world where Nazis were successful in experimentations with the occult and creating monsters to aid them in world domination! With the latest Wolfenstein game set to release in just under a week no is no better time than any to take a history lesson on Wolfenstein.
Castle Wolfenstein – 1981
The history of Wolfenstein goes back quite far. I was quite surprised when I first discovered that Wolfenstein 3D was not the first ever Wolfenstein game. Castle Wolfenstein was released by Muse software back in 1981 for MS-DOS and the Apple 2 PC as well as a few other popular platforms at the time. The game was designed quite similar to Metal Gear where stealth and non violent take downs were favoured over slaughtering everything in sight. The game spawned a sequel called beyond Castle Wolfenstein which was released in 1984.
Wolfenstein 3D – 1991
This was the first major hit in the Wolfenstein series. The game was a huge success and is regarded to be one of the games that helped shape the First Person Shooter(FPS) genre combined with the run and gun gameplay style. FPS games were rare back in 1991 which made Wolfenstein popular because it was different. Wolfenstein 3D is the game that is responsible for the unusual and awesome sci-fi direction that all modern Wolfenstein games have stuck with. A mechanical robot Hitler is a boss fight that I will never forget!
Spear Of Destiny – 1992
A year later in 1992 a prequel to Wolfenstein 3D was created called Spear Of Destiny. The game was just like Wolfenstein but with a new story and levels. The look and feel was identical to Wolfenstein 3D as it ran using the same game engine and was developed by the same team. The game never really reached the same level of fame that Wolfenstein 3D hit but a lot of this can be down to the fact that it is difficult to tell the difference between the two games unless you knew the levels very well.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein – 2001
This was actually the first Wolfenstein game that I played. I have great memories of playing this game. At the time everything seemed so new and crazy to me. Giant robot super soldiers or UberSoldat’s as they were referred to in the game. The graphics were great and the story was even better. It was a welcome break from the WW1 and WW2 shooters that were popular at the time. I have yet to play the latest Wolfenstein game but I have played all the others and this was by far my favourite of them all. Crazy Nazi experimentations with robots, monsters and the occult…how much more evil can they be portrayed! The thing that made this games story even cooler for me was learning that the Nazis actually showed great interest in the occult during the war.
Enemy Territory – 2003
Enemy Territory was originally planned to be released as an expansion pack for Return to Castle Wolfenstein but it was cancelled due to there being problems with the progression of the single player story mode. Rather than dump the whole project the development team released the multiplayer portion of the game as a free download. This game proved to be incredibly popular and even to this day it is still an incredibly popular online game.
Enemy Territory had a character progression model similar to that found in Call of Duty. You kill enemies and perform other tasks in game which earn you XP. This XP goes toward your level which will unlock new weapons and upgrades as you get higher in the ranks. My favourite part about the multiplayer were the game modes. Rather than just kill all members of the other team in a standard death match there were objectives to complete. Team A would have to safely transport a truck with explosives to a bank where it will explode allowing players to rob the bank. Team B would have to stop Team A from completing this. Each team could have engineers, medics and soldiers. Engineers were vital as they repaired walls, vehicles if damaged for Team A and could erect barriers and mounted weapons for Team B.
Wolfenstein RPG – 2008
If you are wondering why you never heard of this game it’s because it was released for smart phones. It was heavily inspired by Wolfenstein 3D but it ditched the 8Bit visuals for a more modern visual style. The story is what you might expect from a Wolfenstein game, crazy Nazi’s, weird shit happening so the only option is to kill everything you come across! The game did quite well based on critic reviews and it’s quite surprising that the game has never shown up on other mobile platforms like the 3Ds or the Vita.
Wolfenstein – 2009
This was the first major release for a Wolfenstein game in 8 years and unfortunately it wasn’t really worth the wait. The game was good but it was buggy and it was very clear that development of the game was rushed. The game touched on some cool ideas and brought us some more crazy ass Nazi inventions that had you wondering how they hadn’t taken the world over already! The story was really cool, Nazis discover another dimension that releases energy but is highly unstable. With a device the player is able to switch between these dimensions but for a limited time. The idea was cool but so many other aspects felt a bit rushed. This was confirmed when I tested the multiplayer mode and discovered that it didn’t work at all. With another 6 months development time this game could have really put Wolfenstein back on the map but sadly it was good but forgettable.
Wolfenstein : The New Order – 2014
This is the latest game in the series and is set to release on pc, ps3, ps4, xbox 360 and xbox one. The developers have claimed that they have tried their best to stay true to the older games but still bringing a new breadth of air to the series. A developer has even hinted that we may see a robot Hitler appear in the game. The game is set to release on the 20th of May so we will have to wait until then to find out if this will be the game that makes Wolfenstein one of the most popular games in the industry.